If there is a silver lining to the new altered cross country season, which sees only three teams per meet, but thus a lot more meets, it is that the Journal-covered programs will host more than in previous seasons. The first week of September saw Lanesboro/Fillmore Central and Kingsland both hosts meets, the first for either since the Knights hosted many years ago at Root River Country Club. At the Fillmore County Fairgrounds in Preston, Ellen Cullen’s Burros hosted LARP and Schaeffer Academy. Matt Kingsbury’s Rush Creek conglomerate entered as the headliner and didn’t disappointed. The girls ran first. LARP freshman Lauren Honken was the top individual, running the 5,000-meter course in 23:22 to claim first. LFC’s top returning runner Brielle Ruen was next (23:53) followed by another LARP freshman, Ellie Ekern (24:07). Team-wise, LFC was the only complete squad. Varsity cross country newcomers, 7th grader Lilyan Kiehne (4th, 4:22), sophomore Madison Simon (5th, 24:42), and frosh Kammry Broadwater (6th, 24:46) joined with veterans Ruen and Morgan Pickett (7th, 24:55) to give the Burros their five scoring runners. LARP had just four entrants and S.A. three. Twenty-one girls total ran with 14 coming from LFC. On the boys side, LARP standouts Luke O’Hare and Tyler Rislov were a zooming Batman and Robin. The duo blazed the trail, each nearly finished a minute before anyone else. O’Hare ran the 5-kilometer flat course in 17:27. Rislov was just a few steps back, finishing in 17:39. LARP also had third place, Andrew Hoiness (18:33). Schaeffer’s Luke Bothun (4th, 18:51) and LFC’s Carson Ruen (5th, 19:13) rounded out the top five. LARP had seven in the top nine, as Ryan Prinsen, Aaron Prinsen, Tyler Betthauser, and Grady Hengel finished six through nine. Naturally, LARP easily won the team competition with just 19 points. Schaeffer was second with 57 and LFC third with 62. At Kingsland High School, the Knights hosted R.A.A.C.E. (Rochester Area Association of Christian Educators). Knight sophomore Garrison Hubka (10:49) won the 3,200-meter boys race by 0:47 seconds over Kevin Hagstrom (11:36). Kingsland’s Cole Kruegel (11:59) took fourth. R.A.A.C.E. boys beat the Knights though 24 to 33. They had runners two, three, five, and six. R.A.C.C.E. girls also prevailed, 16 to 46. Sarah Baum (12:50) was meet champion as R.A.A.C.E. runners went 1,2,3,4. Anika Reiland was the top Knight, as she finished fifth (14:04).
Cross Country (9/1)
(B) La Crescent 31, PEM 31, GMLOS 67 (LC’s Cody Kowalski (11:36.5) and Jack Redman (11:46.1) took first and second individually at the 3,200-meter course. GMLOS’ top runners were Christian Hjelman (12:21.73) and Cohen Wiste (12:40.17), who took 7th and 9th respectively); (G) PEM 33, La Crescent 33, GMLOS 56 (LC’s Lydia Rosendahl (13:57.61) took first with PEM’s Cecily Snyder (14:24.06) taking second. GMLOS’ top runners were Kendyl Queensland (15:01.98) and Hailey Hindt (15:07.2), who took 6th and 7th. Both events held at Plainview’s Piper Hills Golf Course)
Soccer (8/28 – 9/3)
(B) Caledonia/Spring Grove/Houston 1, Schaeffer Academy 0 (Hunter Holland, in his first high school soccer match, scored the only goal of the evening. The sophomore striker put the winner into the net early in the second half as the C/SG/H boys provided new head coach Craig Hahn a victorious debut. The Warriors shut out Schaeffer Academy at Rochester in the season opener for both teams); (G) C/SG/H 6, S.A. 2 (Lions had an answer for the first two C/SG/H goals, but the Warriors took a 3-2 lead into halftime and then added three second-half scores to salt away the season-opening decision at Rochester. Shortly before halftime, sophomore Kennedy Kruse scored the go-ahead goal after taking a pass from junior Hailey Alfson. Senior Tayler Kohlmeier contributed two goals to put C/SG/H ahead 5-2. Senior Gabby Roble scored the season’s first goal in the 12th minute and then assisted on Kohlmeier’s first score of the second half. After the Lions had made it 1-1, Alfson put the Warriors ahead again midway through the first half. Sophomore Ayshia Gay closed the scoring, and like Alfson and Roble, chalked up both a goal and an assist. Sophomore Cameryn Kruse assisted on two goals, one in each half. Senior Eliza Welscher had the first assist pass of the season. Eighth grade goalkeeper Josie Foster debuted by saving 6 of the 8 Schaeffer shots on goal. The Warriors dominated play while attempting 39 shots. From August 28.)
(B) St. Charles/Lewiston-Altura 6, C/SG/H 2 (Lyle Myhre and Austin Meyer scored the first two goals of the second half for the Warriors, but the home team was fighting back from a four-goal halftime deficit. SC/L-A had scored twice during the first ten minutes and then made it 4-0 just 17 seconds before the break. The Saints (1-0) scored late in both halves to take their opener for the third straight season. Olvin Cruz scored twice and assisted once. Luke Hanson had a three-assist hat-trick); (G) C/SG/H 0, SC/L-A 2 (No info provided. From September 1)
(B) C/SG/H 1, La Crescent/Hokah 1 (Austin Meyer scored with three minutes remaining in the 80-minute match to earn the draw for the Warriors and deny the home team its first win. After a scoreless 40-minute first half, a goal in the 62nd minute by Evan Pechacek had given the Lancers (0-1-1) the lead. Sophomore goalkeeper August Allen kept the Warriors in contention by saving 15 of 16 Lancer shots on goal. Warriors are 1-1-1); (G) LC/H 6, C/SG/H 0 (Lancer
The Fall Top 50
Countdown (50 to 46)
It will be a strange fall with no football or volleyball. Since last spring’s individual All-Decade teams for each sport was received well, the Journal Sports will do something similar. It will rehash the top 50 fall sports teams from 2010-2019, to reminisce on volleyball and football (plus cross country) in times of wanting. Said teams will be picked from the now ten schools in our coverage, FC, R-P, Chatfield, Kingsland, M-C, Houston, Lanesboro, GM, SG, and L-O. They will be written about in groups of five, counting down from 50. To make ranking easier, it will be done via post-season finish. Bringing home post-season hardware is a near requisite. Sixteen teams from the Journal “10” made state from 2010-2019. Another 19 lost in section finals. Ten more lost in sub-section title games. That’s 45 teams that won hardware, leaving five “wild card” spots to teams that were excellent despite missing out on post-season success. Ranking across different years, and involving teams from three different sports, is difficult and subject to debate. A bunch of good teams will also be left off. However, there is no doubt the 50 teams analyzed over the next 10 weeks, in whatever order they are presented, certainly accomplished a lot and left memories. Squads 50 down to 46 are the top teams that didn’t play for a post-season championship. All would’ve been much further up the countdown had post-seasons not ended so abruptly.
The Gopher volleyball team circa-2015 makes the list because it did something only two other Journal-covered teams did from 2010-2019. The Gophers won (shared) the Three Rivers Conference title. That season in the TRC, Caledonia beat Wabasha-Kellogg, W-K beat Chatfield (late in the season), and Chatfield beat Caledonia. It led to a three-way share of the conference title. The Chat/Cal match happened in the season’s second conference game. Chatfield lost game one 25-7 and had to rally from a 2-0 deficit for a 3-2 win. The Gophers finished with a good record of 18-11, playing good competition. Ruth Ann Lund was the coach and the squad got the #1-seed in the 1AA East play-offs. But Chatfield (enrollment 243) fell to Red Wing (enrollment 709) in the semifinals 3-0 in the Wingers first year of dropping down to Class AA. The Gophers were led by the senior five-some of Brook Adler, Sheridan Salisbury, Megan LaPlante, Maddie Muller, and Danielle Kramer. Adler and Salisbury made All-TRC. Adler had a team-best 278 kills. Salisbury concluded a strong four-year career (223 kills, 333 digs) and went on to play a little as UNC-Asheville. Muller (660 assists, 252 digs), Kramer (279 digs), and LaPlante (419 digs) were All-TRC Honorable Mention. It was Chatfield’s last really good volleyball squad, one at the end of a long run of excellence. It came on the wings of back-to-back years where Chatfield battled FC atop the conference. Gopher volleyball squads averaged 20-plus wins the first six years of the decade, culminating with this 2015 squad.
It is the team that rose from the ashes. Juniors and seniors on the squad didn’t even have a varsity team to watch when they were 7th and 8th graders. In 2015, LeRoy-Ostrander didn’t have a football program. Behind Coach Trevor Carrier in 2019, L-O ran the table in the South-East, claiming the District title. A 53-22 win over typical-powerhouse Spring Grove in week two was a big message. The Lions were the two-time defending 9-Man State Champions. Beating the South-East’s other most recent top dog, rival Grand Meadow 30-19 in week three, really turned heads. The Cardinals had knocked off not just South-East royalty, but Minnesota 9-man state-wide royalty, in back-to-back weeks. L-O then powered through a number of tough tests, beating Southland 26-21 in week five and Lanesboro 20-12 in week seven. Downing Kingsland 58-22 in week eight gave L-O an undefeated regular season. They got the 9-Man Section 1’s top seed, got past M-C 38-22 in the first round of the playoffs, only to get upset by 5-seed Houston in the 9-Man semifinals. Not too many teams’ first loss is their last loss, as L-O finished 9-1. The Cardinals got five players named All-District, seniors Riley Olson (WR/DE), Tanner Kasel (TE/DE), and Carter Johnson (RB/LB), junior Isaac Collier (WR/LB), and sophomore Chase Johnson (QB/S). All five were first time pure All-District picks. Of the District’s four big individual awards, L-O grabbed three. Chase Johnson was “Back of the Year,” Kasel “Lineman of the Year,” and Carrier “Coach of the Year.” Both Chase J. (1,228, 8 TDs rushing, 1,234 yards, 12 TDs passing) and Carter J. (1,111 yards, 24 TDs) went over 1,000 yards rushing. Olson (724 yards, 7 TDs receiving, 11 total TDs) was the top receiver (All stats taken from MaxPreps). Kaleb Janssen (Sr. OL/DL) and Tanner Olson (So. OL/DL) were All-District H.M. It was L-O’s first football winning season since 2006.
It would be a tough claim to make, but it may be true. Of all the years in the decade, 2011 might have had the greatest number of great volleyball teams in Section 1A. Rushford-Peterson’s squad went 21-13 and featured two 1,000-kill hitters, but they were a 6-seed that bowed in the 1A quarterfinals to Lewiston-Altura! Lonnie Morken’s Cougars were one of the other squads in the section who were powerful. They won their own Labor Day Tourney and the Southland Tourney. A young M-C squad, led by sophomores, was clipped by rival Caledonia in the regular season 3-1. The 2011 season was also notable because up until 2018, it was the last M-C team that lost a match to any other SEC team. LeRoy-Ostrander clipped M-C 3-1 in the SEC-East/West Showcase game. It’s notable when simply losing is notable! Nonetheless, M-C took home the SEC-East crown, going 13-0 in league play. They didn’t lose a league regular season set. They came close to making the 1A East finals, getting to match point in the semis versus L-A, only to fall 3-2. M-C finished at 31-4 overall. Sophomores Belle Sand (388 kills, 416 digs) Lydia Geving (250 kills, 311 digs, 119 aces), and Carly McCabe (912 assists), junior Christy Welscher (171 kills, 76 totals blocks), made All-SEC. Junior Kristina Mengis was All-SEC HM. Sand was SEC Player of the Year and Class A Honorable Mention All-State for a second time. That group of players would have a lot of wins to come.
#47) Fillmore Central
It is the year the preceded the year. It was the year that probably motivated and spawned the year. Section 1A volleyball was super strong in 2012. If 2011 wasn’t the toughest field of competition (See #48 M-C Volleyball), 2012 was. A young Falcon team was honed by playing against all that strength. Fillmore Central posted their second best season of the decade, win-wise. The Falcons went 26-6. They were 9-2 in the TRC, losing only to section runner-up W-K (30-3) and State Class AA Runner-Up Caledonia (27-7). The Falcons almost made it to the 1A East finals. FC led M-C 2-0 and were up 9-2 in game three in the semis. But then the bottom fell out. The Cougars came back for the huge 3-2 win (31-33, 20-25, 25-18, 25-14, 16-14). The Falcons season ended in a massive disappointment. The same group of girls came back a year later and did the entire school very proud. FC’s 2013 campaign was of the state variety (the top volleyball team on this list). Coach Denise Case saw her daughter Taylor (348 kills, 328 digs) make All-TRC and Class A All-State Honorable Mention. Sophomore setter Morgan Malley (747 assists) and junior hitter Victoria Peterson (211 kills) also made All-TRC while senior Chelsea Rislove (223 digs), sophomore Sammi Bakke (100 kills) and Leah Scheevel (148 kills) were All-TRC HM. It was a key season in getting Falcon volleyball talons initially entrenched as a ‘“program.” It has been ever since.
And the 2019 L-O Cardinal football team thought they had it bad. M-C’s 2010 team was the only one loss volleyball squad to play the entire decade. Lonnie Morken’s group didn’t lose a regular season match. M-C won their own Labor Day Tourney. They won the Southland Tourney. They won the Pierz Tourney. The Cougars notched a 3-2 win over Caledonia in a big non-conference match-up. The Warriors went on to be Section 1AA Runner-Up to powerful Stewartville. M-C was undefeated SEC champions and headed to the post-season with a 32-0 record. Then the big upchuck, or what many Kingsland girls expressed as their crowning high school sports achievement. The 7-seeded Knights beat the 2-seeded Cougars 3-2 (14-25, 25-11, 25-23, 17-25, 15-13) in the 1A East quarters. Kingsland was on Cougar Coach Morken’s radar, as they had a few notable players out during the regular season per extracurricular activities. The Knights went on to make the 1A East finals, falling to eventual state champion W-K in four sets. It was a hugely disappointing end to the M-C season. Hitters Alix Kerns (327 kills, 341 digs) and Lindsey Kuhn (236 kills, 93 aces) were All-SEC with fellow seniors Lindsey Ardinger (MH, 215 kills) and setter Kayla Rasmussen (setter, 992 assists). A freshman by the name of Belle Sand (OH, 235 kills, 283 digs) was also All-SEC, the SEC Player of the Year. It was the first of nine 30-win seasons from 2010-2019 for Cougar volleyball. Their “Journal 10” contemporaries combined for just one 30-win season in the decade (FC in 2013).